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It’s that time of year! We are just one month away from the March 1st California Hazardous Materials Business Plans (HMBP’s) reporting deadline. With so many regulations and permits to keep track of it can be easy to forget every component of your facility’s submittal! To make your life a little easier, (hopefully!), Mapistry is here to provide your HMBP survival guide.

Before we dive into the components of a HMBP…first, a history lesson!

HMBP’s are unique to California! Yep, California is home to some of the most rigorous state hazardous materials compliance laws and regulations – all you California folks are extra lucky 😉

So why does California have such strict regulations? Well…

After the 1984 accidental release of methylisocyanate from the Union Carbide fertilizer plant in Bhopal, India (killing more than 2,000 people) Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA) in 1986. EPCRA was passed to reduce the likelihood of a similar disaster in the United States. Federal, state and local governments were granted authority to pass regulations requiring facilities to disclose information about chemicals used (communities have the right to know – clever name right!), manufactured and any releases into the environment. These requirements are now required in accordance with first, with state law and then all the way down to local health and safety codes – all thanks to the Community Right-to-Know Act.

Additionally, following a 1985 fire at a chemical manufacturing facility in Anaheim, California (water was used to fight the fire despite water reactive chemicals being manufactured and stored in the facility… resulting in a massive toxic cloud and debris) the state legislature passed regulations requiring all [regulated] businesses disclose the amounts and types of hazardous materials facilities use and store.

Before we get into the nitty gritty! One quick, IMPORTANT, disclaimer! Local jurisdictions may have different regulations than state, always (always!) consult your individual county and city to verify your facilities individual HMBP requirements.  

Ok, first things first, what is a hazardous chemical?

Federally, a hazardous chemical is any hazardous chemical as defined under 29 CFR Section 1910.1200 (c) or (in plain English…) any chemical which is a physical hazard or a health hazard.

In California a hazardous material is any material that, “because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical characteristics, poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety or to the environment if released into the workplace or the environment”. Hazardous materials include, but are not limited to, hazardous substances, hazardous waste, and any material that a handler or the unified program agency has a reasonable basis for believing that it would be injurious to the health and safety of persons or harmful to the environment. See, California is not messin’ around, the definition of haz material is even more rigorous than the federal one!

What facilities are included?

Now that you know the formal definition of hazardous materials, I’m guessing panic has set in! But, not all facilities are lucky enough to submit!

Not to harp, but understanding individual jurisdictions requirements about what facilities are required to submit HMBP’s is crucial! For example, all you lucky facility folks in Santa Clara County, have to report all chemicals regardless of amount, it’s an all count jurisdiction. If you county or city does not have specific reporting thresholds, you can use those outlined with Section 11022 of Title 42 of the California Health and Safety code  outlined below:

The owner or operator of a facility to complete and submit a HMBP if the facility handles a hazardous material or mixture containing a hazardous material that has a quantity at any one time during the reporting year equal to or greater than:

  • 55 gallons (liquids), 500 pounds (solids), or 200 cubic feet for a compressed gas – meaning if you store bleach in 55  different locations all in 1 gallon containers, bleach would meet the reportable threshold because consolidated the volume is 55 gallons.
  • The hazardous material is an extremely hazardous substance, as defined in Section 355.61 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, this is tricky, if your facility handles extremely hazardous substances, the facility needs additionally permitting. Facilities storing above the threshold amount of a regulated substances must take measures to prevent the accidental release of regulated substances as defined by California Accidental Release Protocols regulation.
  • A total weight of 5,000 pounds for solids or a total volume of 550 gallons for liquids, if the hazardous material is a solid or liquid substance that is classified as a hazard for purposes of Section 5194 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations solely as an irritant or sensitizer, unless the unified program agency finds, and provides notice to the business handling the product, that the handling of lesser quantities of that hazardous material requires the submission of a business plan, or any portion of a business plan, in response to public health, safety, or environmental concerns.
  • A total of 1,000 cubic feet of compressed gas classified as a hazard.
  • Amounts of radioactive materials requiring an emergency plan pursuant to Parts 30, 40, or 70 of Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • The business handles perchlorate material.

Ok, with all the groundwork laid, what is included in an HMBP submittals?

To add to the fun, HMBP’s must be submitted in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS), the HMBP version of SMARTS!

1. Business Activities Form  (Found in the Facility Information section of CERS)

The Business Activities Form, does just that, lists out the business activities conducted at the facility – easy peasy!

However, When filling out this form act with caution, some of the questions, if answered yes, may require additionally permitting. For example, one of the questions is “Does your facility treat hazardous waste on-site?”. If you answer yes, your facility may need to complete Tiered Permitting depending on, yep, you guessed it, the facility’s jurisdiction!

2. Business Owner/Operator Identification (Found in the Facility Information section of CERS)


3. Hazardous Materials – Chemical Description and Inventory (Hazardous Materials Inventory Section of CERS)

The CERS database requires all state and federally required inventory information and will meet state and federal reporting requirements, including physical state, CAS number, maximum daily amount, etc. You can see how Mapistry’s chemical table below which downloads directly into the CERS reporting format (shameless plug!).

Additionally, in January of 2018, CalEPA mandated all inventories must include the updated fire codes to reflect the removal of obsolete fire codes. Check out the table below for more info!

4. An Annotated Site Map (Hazardous Materials Inventory Section of CERS)

The site map should include loading areas, internal roads, adjacent streets, storm and sewer drains, access and exit points, emergency shut offs, evacuation staging areas, hazardous material handling and storage areas, and emergency response equipment.

5. Emergency Response and Training Plans

Pretty self-explanatory, but this includes the facility’s emergency training program and contingency plan.


Those 5 components make up your HMBP submittal, now you’re all set to take the HMBP and CERS world by storm!

One final word of warning…failing to meet the HMBP requirements could result in huge fines and penalties. Any business that does not comply with the HMBP requirements is civilly liable to the administering county or city in an amount, not more than $2,000 every day the violation remains outstanding or even as high as $5,000 if the county or city has previously cited that business. Suffice to say this stuff is pretty serious!

If you’re still scratching your head, check our hazmat suite info sheet if you’re curious how Mapistry can help automate this process.

Happy HMBPing!

Need help navigating these steps?

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